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Target on Pups, Saxons

Thu., Aug. 28, 2014

Staying healthy is prevailing theme for junior-dominated league

It may not be unanimous but the Greater Spokane League’s 4A coaches believe Gonzaga Prep will capture the league championship.

The team the coaches believe will earn the other play-in berth is Ferris. The coaches believe all six teams will be competitive.

G-Prep coach Dave McKenna said the chief challenge he faces is finding an offensive line. He didn’t know who he’d have in the hunt for starting jobs even on the first day of fall camp.

Even when he determines his starters up front there won’t be much margin for injury.

“We need to stay healthy,” McKenna said.

G-Prep will feature a talented backfield. Senior running back Jack Bamis was the second-leading rusher a year ago with 1,257 yards. Assisting Bamis will be senior Nick Wood, who proved capable last season.

Junior Liam Bell has earned the start at quarterback.

Ferris will center its offense around senior running back Jalen Hicks, who finished third last year with 916 yards. Coach Jim Sharkey will also use Hicks at receiver, seeking opportunities to use the speedy Saxon one-on-one against defensive backs.

Seniors Tanner Parker and Mitch Pike, a transfer from North Carolina, are waging a battle for the start at quarterback.

“A tough nonleague schedule should prepare us for league games,” Sharkey said. “We will need to stay healthy to be in the hunt in a very balanced league. The turnover ratio will be a key stat for us.”

If either G-Prep or Ferris stumble, the rest hope to be ready to step up.

“It’s the toughest league to predict in my eight years of being in Spokane,” Sharkey said.

Stronger up front

A year ago, LC started one of its most inexperienced lines. Coach Dave Hughes likes what he has back.

Where the Tigers could prove to be strongest, though, is on defense.

“We have eight starters back on defense,” Hughes said.

Leading the way is junior defensive end Blake Ochsner and senior linebacker Taylor Duncan, who will be the featured starter at tailback.

It’s believed that LC has the best junior class among the 4A teams.

“It’s yet to be determined but we’re excited about it,” Hughes said. “As a whole most teams’ juniors are better than their seniors.”

Fewest starters returning

Central Valley, Mead and University, which moves up from 3A, return the least experience among the 4A teams.

Which team matures quickest remains to be seen.

CV must rebuild its offensive line; Mead’s best asset could be speed; and U-Hi’s youth and depth will be tested.

Senior Spencer Miller will be a key two-way starter at RB and LB for CV.

“We like our potential,” CV coach Rick Giampietri said. “We have great skill players.”

At Mead, seniors Anthony Gold and Daniel Munoz are battling for time at quarterback.

Mead coach Sean Carty said his team will focus on the purest form of the Fly offense. Which is to say Gold and Munoz will likely run more than throw.

Titans running back Bryce Williamson gained 567 yards in seven games as a starter last year as a sophomore. He’ll be counted on to anchor a young offense.

“We had a tremendous offseason that spanned the majority of the summer,” U-Hi coach Rob Bartlett said.

“We have a small group of seniors, so some of our younger players have a great opportunity to play on Friday nights.”

1. Gonzaga Prep4. Central Valley
2. Ferris5. Mead
3. Lewis and Clark6. University

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